Pop Eye.

eyeball-1975EYEBALL

3 Stars  1975/89m

“A blinding vision of horror.”

A.k.a. The Secret Killer

Director: Umberto Lenzi / Writer: Felix Tusell / Cast: Martine Brochard, John Richardson, Ines Pellegrini, Andrés Mejuto, Mirta Miller, Daniele Vargas, George Rigaud, Silvia Solar, José Maria Blanco, Marta May, John Bartha, Verónica Miriel.

Body Count: 7

Laughter Lines: “Are you saying the killer’s a sadist?” / “I wouldn’t rule it out.”


That this film begins with a tour guide saying: “Coming up on the left now is Barcelona’s bullfighting arena,” when it’s on the right sets things up awesomely.

Fun little giallo shot on location in and around Barcelona (where I’ve spent a majority of the last year) where a bus chock full of American tourists provides a victim pool for an eye-gouging killer who favours plucking peepers from various nubile young girls. Beware a few minor SPOILERS.

I’m not particularly well-versed in giallo classics, but I’ve seen enough to spot the standard hallmarks in play: Mystery glove-wearing killer, many-a fast zoom into character’s faces as something suspicious is said, “Americans” with Euro-accents, amusing translations and clunky dubbing.

*sigh* I miss the 70s... Oh wait, I wasn't there.

*sigh* I miss the 70s… Oh wait, I wasn’t there.

Being a pre-American slasher product, Eyeball nevertheless presents itself with more than a few 80s teenie-kill aesthetics: There are POV shots as the killer floats towards his next unsuspecting victim, boobs-a-plenty, and a short but sweet final girl sequence – with, shock, a black final girl!

So, Paulette is on the tour and her boss/lover Mark, has run out on his disturbed wife to catch up and romance the hell out of Paulette. This is scuppered by the onset of the killings – first a local girl at La Ramblas, then one of the tour group is murdered on a ghost train, a waitress at a bar they all visit is dispatched while she feeds the pigs (!), and so on.

Naturally, all the men are suspects and it’s down to retirement-nearing Inspector Tudela and his young successor to solve the case before he embarks on a life of trout fishing. Fun. Aside from Mark, there’s a creepy Reverend, the boring husband of a restless wife, a cigar-chomping Texan, and the pervy tour guide, who likes to prank the young girls with his array of crappy fake spiders and rodents. Each of them is afforded more than a handful of the zooms-of-suspicion at one point. Even Jessica Fletcher would be dumbfounded by the sheer number of potential loons on this vacation.

eyeball2Spain is presented in lush colours and inimitable 70s fashion choices, which lends the film a pleasantly diverting quality, as if you’re taking a holiday from the same-old American slasher film conventions.

Nothing really lets Eyeball down, it just suffers from the ridiculousness that haunts the whole sub-genre, with a motive so whacky I had to re-watch the ensure I’d actually not misunderstood it.

Otherwise, it’s business as usual: The females are all super hot and super killed, while the only male victim is old and creasy-faced, and killed off-camera. The men can be slimy, sleazy, and annoying but still survive intact, which is a general motif in most Italian body-count horror.

There’s a curiously long exchange about mud on footwear: “It’s elementary, as I’m sure you’re aware that simple walking can get a pair of shoes quite dirty.” There are eyes in a box, daggers conveniently monogrammed with the initials of a suspect, secret photographers and rolls of film with aaaaall the answers. Eyeball has it all. You won’t be bored.

eyeball1Blurbs-of-interest: Brochard and Richardson were reunited in 1981’s Fear; Umberto Lenzi later directed Welcome to Spring Break and also the unsettlingly creepy Ghosthouse.

I Was Made for Killin’ You Baby

TotTERROR ON TOUR

1.5 Stars  1980/84m

Director: Don Edmonds / Writer: Dell Lekus / Cast: Rick Styles, Chip Greenman, Dave Galluzzo, Richard Pemberton, Larry Thomasof, Jeff Morgan, Dave Thompson, Lisa Rodriguez, John Green.

Body Count: 8

Laughter Lines: “I had to kill them… They had no moral boundaries at all. They were whores.”


The Clowns are a KISS-lite rock band on the way up, who dress in campy makeup and capes, and feign executions of nubile dancers during their show… But their road to success is endangered by the murders of groupies-cum-prostitutes at their gigs. The fiendish slayer dresses identically to the band for his murderous outings, so it could be anyone. ANYONE!

Well, not really. There’s only really the band, their manager, and a couple of roadies on the suspect list. It’s not especially challenging to correctly guess who it is and the revelation, complete with the standardized misogynistic motive (see Laughter Lines), is a through-the-motions affair.

Terror on Tour was reportedly shot in just seven days, with the real band (The Names) largely playing themselves, acting duties fall largely to their manager, the roadie guys, a detective who appears halfway through, and the ex-junkie girl he hires to infiltrate the backstage area and bait the killer.

The other ‘characters’ – or rather the victims – are barely afforded names let alone anything else to do than remove their clothes and say things like: “Come on baby, I’m ready, ooh you turn me on so much.” It’s sleazy, grindhousey, underlit, has bad sound, and – worst of all: Boring.

tot1Things do pick up a little when Jane, the bait, arrives, and I expected her to function as a sort of last-minute final girl, but she’s cruelly knifed when she encounters the killer, leaving no female intact come the end. But, I suppose there have been more than a few films where no men were left standing.

As far as metalsploitation films go, at the least the band’s music isn’t suicidally bad for a once, it’s no better nor worse than Rocktober Blood.

Blurbs-of-interest: Rodriguez was in Home, Sweet Home, which shares its producer Sandy Cobe, with this film, as well as To All A Goodnight and Open House. Cobe appears here at the theater manager at the first show.

Wake me when it’s over

DreamaniacDREAMANIAC

1 Stars  1986/82m

“You don’t have to live on Elm Street to have nightmares.”

Director: David DeCoteau / Writer: Helen Robinson / Cast: Thomas Bern, Kim McKamy, Sylvia Summers, Lauren Peterson, Cynthia Crass, Brad Laughlin, Bob Pelham, Matthew Phelps, Linda Watts.

Body Count: 9

Laughter Lines: “Do I know you?” / “I doubt it, I’ve gone to private schools all my life and I’m rich.” / “Oh that’s right, you’re Francis! I thought I recognised those small tits.”


Back in the 1980s, I bet many a disappointed video renter plucked this one from the shelf, thinking it was going to rival Freddy Krueger for some intense scares.

Not so. This early DeCoteau vehicle is an endurance test: Heavy metal lyricist Adam agrees to let his girlfriend Pat’s sister Jodi throw a sorority party at the house he’s sitting. Amidst weird dreams about naked people in baths of blood and a woman with a decapitated head, he conjures up Lily, a succubus who trades sexual favours for the lives of horny teenage partygoers.

In typical mid-80s style, nobody’s ever seen or heard of a slasher film, so they all wander off alone, have sex, don’t leave when the power goes out, allowing Lily and a possessed Adam to knife, electrocute, and bite the dick’s off the party guests.

Some of them seem to come back as zombies and need to be killed again, but I wasn’t sure about that… The Spanish copy I watched had quite a bad resolution.

dm1A ‘joke’ is added to the end for reasons unknown, it’s a bit funny, but more or less negates the previous 75 minutes and the entire USP of the film, but DeCoteau was churning out these babies left, right and centre so I doubt anyone really cared. There’s a fair splattering of gory denouements and at least he populates it with his trademark array of easy-on-the-eye menfolk with their shirts off.

Blurbs-of-interest: Kim McKamy was later in Evil Laugh; DeCoteau turned in what may be his only other slasher film (?) in 2001, Final Stab.

Pant-Soiling Scenes #24: The Woman in Black

The 1989 one, not the ten-jump-scares-a-minute Daniel Radcliffe-is-a-father!? remake.

Anyway, back in ’89, The Woman only appeared maybe three or four times throughout the whole film, just for a few seconds each.

This is the eeriest of her appearances, when our hero feels a pain in his shoulder and makes an about turn and sees…

the-woman-in-black-original

*shudder*

The simplicity of it out-creeps both the 2012 film and its sequel combined. But still can’t touch the stage play, which I can’t recommend enough, even if you, like me, ‘don’t do theater’.

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